What is E-Learning?
E-learning is any type of learning which takes place electronically. This is most commonly through online courses taken over the internet, where students only need an internet connection and internet-ready device in order to earn. Whilst there may be many disadvantages to e-learning, these are easily outweighed by the advantages it brings to both students and teachers.
Disadvantages to e-learning include:
- Digital poverty
- Needing to learn new software
- Dealing with software and technology issues
- The Cost of set up/runnings costs
- E-learning Requires a lot of motivation and time management
- You Can’t gain instant feedback from learners
- The quality of online teacher’s credentials, the course content, and the authenticity of the learning materials can be questionable
- Not everything can be taught online
- E-learning does not suit all learning styles
- Social isolation
- Students aren’t necessarily learning anything
However, if you can overcome these disadvantages, e-learning is both a lucrative and beneficial way of learning for many students. It also provides teachers and content creators with an excellent form of passive income.
In brief, the advantages of e-learning are that it is:
- Easily accessible
- Promote self-paced learning
- Enhance student engagement
- Can be personalised and adapted to different learning styles
- Increase student motivation
In fact, e-learning has become one of the most cost-effective and convenient ways to teach students both in and out of the classroom environment. Here are 10 advantages of e-learning that make it such an appealing choice for today’s educators and students alike.
1. E-Learning is Cost-Effective
One of the biggest advantages of e-learning is its cost-effectiveness. By having students learn in their own homes, they are able to save money on commuting. Students can also save their own time because of this too.
For teachers too, online learning can be more cost-effective than face-to-face teaching. There are initial setup costs of creating an online school. For example, buying a subscription to an online platform that hosts your course and getting various software for teaching. But, these costs are still cheaper than hiring out a classroom to teach from.
Teaching online also has the benefit of enabling you to have your content reach more people. Think about it. You can get a lot more people in a virtual classroom than in a physical classroom. And if you aren’t teaching ‘live,’ then you can potentially have an even larger audience as students can access your course whenever it suits them. In this way, you may even be reaching students who would previously have been unreachable to you. This means that your online course is accessible to more people than traditional face-to-face teaching. And more accessibility means more chance of course sales.
Teaching online may seem daunting, but it’s no less daunting than teaching face-to-face. As with any teaching session, preparation is key. Knowing the software you’ll be using is your secret weapon. Get that right and the rest will fall into place.
2. Easy Accessibility
Online courses can be more accessible to students than traditional classroom teaching. For starters, online courses can be accessed from anywhere in the world, as long as the student has an internet connection. This means that you can teach people who aren’t even in the same country as you.
Such easy accessibility is amazing for the reach of your online course. Think about all of those potential students who wouldn’t be able to access your course if you only taught it face-to-face.
This ease of accessibility can also be beneficial for those with mental health issues and who are concerned about leaving their home. Online courses mean that they can log on and learn at their own pace.
Similarly, students with special educational needs (SEN), such as dyslexia can go through the material at their own pace. Such accessibility can be hugely beneficial for a student.
We can also consider those with physical disabilities. For example, those students who have sight difficulties can use alt text and videos to access online learning.
The flexibility provided by e-learning makes it easier for all kinds of students to remain engaged throughout the learning process.
Whilst I’ve talked about easy accessibility in this section, it is important to remember about digital poverty. Not everyone has easy access to a good internet connection. Also, not everyone has access to devices to run online courses. Some people don’t have a laptop or tablet and can only access content on their phones. This enforces the need to ensure that your online course is optimised for mobile phone access.
Additionally, not everyone is tech-literate. Luckily, a lot of online course platforms are self-explanatory to use. However, it is always worth including a quick ‘how to use this course’ guide at the start of your online course. You never know who might need it!
3. Online Courses are Scalable
One of the biggest advantages of e-learning is that it’s scalable. Unlike a traditional classroom or one-on-one tutoring, e-learning courses can be accessed by unlimited numbers of students around the world. You don’t need to worry about a building, facilities, hiring teachers, equipment, or even finding new students. With a little work, you can have an infinite number of students to access your course.
And because no two learners are alike, there’s no limit to how many versions of your course you can create.
For example, some students might enjoy video presentations; others might prefer audio. Some may want text and images; others prefer interactive illustrations and simulations. An e-learning platform gives you the freedom to deliver whatever style of content works best for each individual learner. Depending on your personal learning style or location, certain styles of content delivery may be more suited for you than others. So having options makes it easier for everyone to find success.
4. E-Learning Promotes Self-Paced Learning
One of the biggest advantages of e-learning is its ability to make self-paced learning a reality. Students can move at their own pace, receiving immediate feedback and moving on once they master a subject.
Not only that, but students can learn in their own time zones, eliminating any commuting issues. E-learning is also incredibly cost-effective. There is no need for classrooms or even teachers to be physically present. Scaling capacity (up or down) is much easier too; just increase server capacity as needed.
The perfect example of scalability? Massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOCs allow thousands of students to take part in a single course—no more building classrooms one at a time for small class sizes. And best of all, you don’t have to commute anywhere; your lessons are right there on your computer!
Most of the time, online courses offer lifetime access to their content. MOOCs and other webinars also often provide a link to watch back the content at a later time. Both of these options are ideal for self-paced learning. It means that students can reaccess the learning material and recap their knowledge. Equally, when students revisit the course materials, they may pick up on points that were missed the first time around. Therefore, self-paced learning can enhance the student’s experience.
5. There is an Enhanced Student Engagement
In an online course, if a student is struggling with a lesson, he or she can pause it and try again later. This can’t be said for a face-to-face classroom where a teacher would need to stop the lesson to revisit a point. Therefore, students in an online course can work at their own pace.
Student engagement can be linked to the cost of the course. It is estimated that only 20-30% of online courses are completed. In some research, online course completion rates are as low as 5%. Online courses which have a cost attached to them are more likely to be completed than free courses. This is because there is more value attached to a paid course. The student has paid money to access the content and is, therefore, more motivated to get their money’s worth from their investment.
6. Personalization and Adaptive Learning
One of the biggest benefits of e-learning is its ability to individualize and adapt to a student’s needs.
Some courses provide questions at specific points in time to give teachers more insight into what their students are learning, understanding, and struggling with. This information can be used to tailor future lessons and assignments.
Features such as alt text, subtitles, and course transcripts can be invaluable to a range of learners, including those with sight, hearing, and language difficulties. Equally, offering your course in different formats can be beneficial to students with special educational needs (SEN), such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, or dyscalculia.
Part of offering courses that are personalised and adapted may involve the use of blended learning. Blended learning incorporates both face-to-face and online teaching. This gives your students flexibility in how they access your course content.
It might be that you hold a seminar for students, and then have them go away and complete online learning to complete the course. Equally, students may attend a face-to-face session after completing pre-course work.
The face-to-face part of blended learning doesn’t have to be held in a physical classroom. It could be held in a virtual classroom instead. Offering this face-to-face interaction can help personalise the course for students by giving them the opportunity to ask questions and interact with you and others on the course.
7. Increased Student Motivation
One big advantage of e-learning is that it allows students to work at their own pace. A teacher or instructional designer can create a variety of materials and lessons that cover everything from basic concepts to more in-depth theories. Students then receive each lesson on their schedule. Whether they’re motivated enough to take one online course every day, or they prefer to take a weeklong crash course before an exam.
This works especially well for different learning styles.
Some students might need time to look over assignments multiple times before moving forward. Others may be ready for new material as soon as they complete an exercise. Whatever style fits you best, digital platforms let you learn (and study) at your own pace. With these advantages, e-learning tends to be highly effective for students with dyslexia or other special needs too. This is especially true when educators make accommodations for different learning styles throughout a program.
8. Up to date content
Online courses are easier to update than face-to-face training. Not only this, but it’s easier to get up to date information to your students in a timely manner.
A lot of online courses have lifetime access for their students. This means that whenever there is an update on a topic, the teacher can make the relevant changes to the online course. Students who have previously bought the course now have access to the up to date information.
The same cannot be said for face-to-face classes. Here, students are more reliant on being contacted with an update or having to ensure they are keeping updated in their field in other ways.
A great example of this is in the Stupid Simple SEO course. In the course, one of the resources used is a 7-day trial with AHREFS. This trial is now ending, and AHREFS are doing away with their 7-day trial. This means that a certain aspect of the course won’t be accessible to students like before.
The course author is in the process of updating the course. The latest announcement was that these updates would be available in the course for current students, as well as for future students. As some who has bought the course, this is great news for me. I can continue with the course regardless of the previous resource no longer being available.
Students can be notified of updates in a course via a quick email through your newsletter.
9. Reduction in time spent learning
It’s estimated that online learning takes 40-60% less time than being in a classroom. In reality, this means that a course that previously would have taken 6 hours to teach in a classroom might only take 2.5-3.5 hours to complete via e-learning.
If students are being sent on a course by their place of work, such time savings can be a huge saving for their company.
For those learning in their own time, a reduction in time is also advantageous. Consider someone taking a blogging course to improve their blogging skills. Being able to take this course in their evenings after work over the course of a few hours is far easier than having to spend many consecutive hours to get the same information.
A reduction in time spent learning does not mean that your online course needs to be offered cheaply. People pay for convenience. And because your courses timeframe is desirable to your students, they will be willing to pay a decent amount for this convenience.
10. Data and analytics
Unlike traditional classroom teaching, e-learning courses can give you an insight into how students interact with your course. For example, data and analytics from an online course can show you:
- Course completion rates
- How long students spend on each section of a course
- Total study time
- Average time to finish a course
- Your most popular courses
- Course search queries
Being aware of this data and analytics enables you to adapt your course based on what you’re being shown. Optimising your content based on analytics ensures that you are delivering a product that is suited to your students.
For example, if there is a section of the course where students are continually scoring badly, this may indicate that you need to revise the content in this section. Equally, there might be a section that is often not completed. This may indicate that the content is dull to interact with and again you might want to review this part of your course.
If you’re finding that a lot of people aren’t completing your videos or modules, you might need to split the videos or course sections down into more manageable chunks.
You can also track analytics through tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel. Such information can be invaluable for your marketing. If you find out that your audience largely consists of a particular gender or career path (for example), you can target your marketing more effectively.
In conclusion, the main advantages of e-learning and online courses are:
- Easily accessible
- Self-Paced Learning
- Enhanced Student Engagement
- Personalisation and adaptive learning
- Increased student motivation
- Up to date content
- Reduction in time spent learning
- Data and analytics
Despite these major advantages, traditional classroom teaching isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We will continue to see an increase in the billion-dollar e-learning industry for years to come, largely due to the many advantages that this method of delivery can offer for both students and teachers alike.
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